Chris Tabor

2024 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

The Commanders’ hire has wrapped this year’s cycle. Barring a team making an 11th-hour change, the 2024 HC carousel has come to a stop. The final breakdown produced five defensive coaches being hired compared to three with backgrounds on offense. Many teams are still searching for offensive and defensive coordinators, however.

Updated 2-1-24 (10:37am CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

  • Jerod Mayo, linebackers coach (Patriots): Hired

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Panthers Will Not Retain Interim HC Chris Tabor, OL Coach James Campen

Two of the Panthers’ three coordinators do not appear in the team’s plans. One officially will depart, with’s Adam Schefter reporting the team is moving on from special teams coordinator-turned-interim HC Chris Tabor.

This will end Tabor’s two-year tenure with the team. A Matt Rhule hire in 2022, Tabor had two years remaining on his contract. The Panthers had also blocked him from interviewing for the Giants’ ST job. The New York position has been filled, but Tabor offers extensive experience on NFL special teams staffs.

David Tepper made keeping Tabor a priority last year, with both he and then-GM Scott Fitterer instructing HC hires to keep the ST boss on staff. Frank Reich did, and Tabor finished his second Carolina season as the team’s interim leader. Although Tabor interviewed for the team’s HC position, he was never viewed as a serious candidate for the job.

Still, it looked like Tabor had a chance to stay in his ST coordinator role under a third coach. Dave Canales will evidently not do so. Tabor, 52, has been in the NFL since the 2008 season. He has only coached with three teams in that span, seeing multiple teams keep him despite changing coaches. Hired during Pat Shurmur‘s run as Browns HC in 2011, Tabor stayed on in that role through the Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine and Hue Jackson tenures. The Bears have employed Tabor twice, the second time (2018-21) as ST coordinator.

Tabor went 1-5 as interim Panthers HC. The team is also not expected to retain OC Thomas Brown, who has already interviewed for two OC jobs (Steelers, Patriots). DC Ejiro Evero has been frequently mentioned as a candidate to stick around, but the Panthers look to have changed course with Tabor. If they backtrack on Evero, the defensive coach will likely end up a coordinator elsewhere. Evero remains in contention to become the Seahawks’ HC as well.

Additionally,’s Ian Rapoport notes offensive line coach James Campen will be allowed to look elsewhere for a job. Tepper and Fitterer also prioritized keeping Campen last year. Campen, 59, has been an NFL assistant since 2004. The veteran O-line coach has spent the past two seasons with the Panthers.

Panthers Request HC Interview With Eagles OC Brian Johnson; Lions Exec Mike Disner Withdraws From GM Consideration

JANUARY 20: Disner has withdrawn from general manager consideration, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports. As a result, he will remain in Detroit for at least a fifth straight season. Carolina was the only team to request an interview with him, but the Panthers have reached out to a number of other candidates in recent days as their search for a Fitterer replacement continues.

JANUARY 10: Although this Eagles season has skidded well off course, the team still reached 11 wins. Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator situation has seen some twists and turns, but its offensive play-caller is now part of the coaching carousel.

The Panthers sent Eagles OC Brian Johnson an interview request Wednesday,’s Adam Schefter tweets. This would be Johnson’s first NFL head coaching interview. The former college OC is finishing up his first season as an NFL play-caller. Johnson has been on Carolina’s radar for a bit. Steve Wilks had eyed Johnson as his OC, but the Panthers gave the HC job to Frank Reich.

Johnson, 36, has seen his profile raised since Shane Steichen accepted the Colts’ offer to become their head coach. The Eagles moved outside the organization to fill their DC post — something they may need to do again soon, considering what has transpired since Jonathan Gannon‘s Cardinals interview — but promoted Johnson after his two-year run as QBs coach.

The Eagles have dipped a bit offensively since last season, when Steichen’s attack featured dramatic Jalen Hurts improvement and third-place rankings in both scoring and yardage. Johnson’s offense ranks seventh and eighth, with Hurts suffering an early-season injury and playing through it. The Eagles have lost five of their past six games.

Carolina has been connected to a young, offense-oriented coach. Johnson checks both boxes and joins Brian Callahan (Bengals), Dave Canales (Buccaneers), Ben Johnson (Lions), Todd Monken (Ravens), Bobby Slowik (Texans) and Frank Smith (Dolphins) as OCs contacted by the Panthers, who are searching for both a head coach and a GM for the first time in the same cycle since John Fox and Marty Hurney were hired in 2002.

The Panthers have also completed a virtual interview with interim HC Chris Tabor. Tabor is not expected to be a serious candidate to become Carolina’s full-time HC. That said,’s David Newton indicates he is likely to receive consideration to stay on as special teams coordinator under the new coach.

On the GM note, the Panthers have two more candidates on their radar. In addition to Dan Morgan, another internal staffer — VP of football administration Samir Suleiman — is interviewing for the job. A salary cap specialist, Suleiman received a promotion in 2022. The Panthers have been linked to pairing Morgan with a football ops-side hire; Suleiman joins a list filled with this genre of GM candidate.

Adding another name to that list, Lions COO Mike Disner received an interview request as well. Disner’s background also is cap- and contract-related. Disner, who has been with the Lions for four years, has a connection in Carolina. He and the Panthers’ VP of player personnel, Adrian Wilson, worked in the Cardinals’ front office together under Steve Keim. Then again, it is far from certain the Panthers will carry over many Scott Fitterer-era front office staffers; the team hired Wilson last year. A relationship to perhaps monitor more closely: Ben Johnson has been with the Lions throughout Disner’s Detroit stay.

Giants To Interview Titans’ Shane Bowen For DC Job; Team Denied Meeting With Panthers’ Chris Tabor

After parting ways with defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, the Giants have started the process of finding a replacement. In a different search, though, New York continues to stick its nose in unwelcome places as they have once again been denied access to certain interview candidates, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

First, Titans defensive coordinator Shane Bowen is reportedly set to interview for the Giants open defensive coordinator position, according to Turron Davenport of ESPN. Bowen is also set to interview for the same position in Jacksonville. In New York, he will be competing with Ravens defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson, who interviewed with the team earlier today.

While Bowen technically is still employed in Nashville, the firing of Mike Vrabel leaves Bowen in a precarious position, as whoever eventually replaces Vrabel may not choose to retain him in Tennessee. After five years as an assistant with the Texans and Titans, Bowen got his first coordinator job in 2021. In his first season, Bowen impressed, with Tennessee finished as the sixth-best scoring defense and finishing 12th in yards allowed. The next two seasons saw mostly middling defenses in Tennessee.

New York has also been exerting efforts to fill its special teams coordinator position after the firing of longtime coordinator Thomas McGaughey. The team was denied access by the Chargers to interview Ryan Ficken as well as being denied access to Marquice Williams by the Falcons. The Giants have now been denied thrice, as Schefter reports that the team’s attempt to interview Panthers interim head coach and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has also been denied.

Tabor and Williams are both currently on captain-less ships after the firings of Frank Reich and Arthur Smith, respectively. Still, Panthers owner David Tepper has shown continuous support for Tabor, encouraging head coaching candidates last year to retain him on the staff. Similarly, though the Falcons have yet to name Smith’s replacement, the team seems to believe that Williams will still have a role moving forward. The Giants will have to continue searching for worthy replacements for McGaughey.

Some Panthers Coaches Could Stay On Staff; OC Thomas Brown Not Expected To Be One Of Them

While several fans will be awaiting the news of the firing of their team’s head coach in the next two days, Carolina fans have already processed their loss. The normal sequence of events whenever there is a changeover at head coach for an NFL team sees most of the accompanying coaching staff also lose their jobs as the team tends to clear house, allowing the new hire the opportunity to build their staff exactly as they desire. The Panthers, with owner David Tepper at the helm, are not a normal team.

We’ve already seen an example where Tepper asserts his authority, encouraging head coaching candidates a year ago to retain special teams coordinator (and current interim head coach) Chris Tabor and offensive line coach James Campen. Both assistants were retained by the now departed Frank Reich. Whether a direct correlation or not, rookie Bryce Young ended up as the second-most sacked quarterback of the season, and Reich lost his job. So, with Tepper likely to flex his influence once again, who is likely to be vouched for to the candidates who may replace Reich?

Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero is a no brainer. Despite giving up the fourth-most points in the NFL this season, the Panthers defense allowed the third-fewest yards this year. The offense routinely put the other unit in bad situations, but the Carolina defense did their best to limit the damage throughout the year.

Evero, though, will be a popular candidate for open head coaching jobs, as he was last year, as well. If the Panthers hire a young, offensive-minded head coach, holding onto Evero could be a perfect recipe for success. Coordinators who leave for head coaching gigs tend to bring their staff with them, so holding on to Evero would likely result in the retention of key defensive assistants like defensive line coach Todd Wash, linebackers coach Peter Hansen, safeties coach Bert Watts, and senior defensive consultant Dom Capers.

Though Evero and his staff could likely depart for greener pastures, it’s even more likely that the staff on the offensive side of the ball won’t return for the Panthers in 2024. The likeliest to return would be Campen, who Tepper continues to back despite a brutal 2023 campaign for the Panthers’ offensive line. Campen is still a highly respected coach in the NFL and delivered a strong offensive line for Carolina in 2022. His most likely route out of Carolina may be due to his connections with Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who seemingly has an outrageous amount of pull in New York.

The rest of the offensive staff, namely offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, face a much different situation. Brown is considered a rising, young mind in the league, earning several head coaching interviews last year before accepting his first coordinator position in Carolina. The coordinator title seemed mostly nominal when he arrived, though, as Reich retained play-calling duties for the offense to start the year.

This fit Brown just fine, as Brown’s best coaching qualities are more leadership-oriented than offensive. That didn’t stop Brown from providing dissenting opinions about the direction of the offense with Reich this year, leading to multiple arguments in house. Brown did lead Young to his only two wins as a play caller this year, but ultimately, the Panthers offense did not flourish under his eventual reign as play caller. There’s a chance that Brown, alone, could be retained for his leadership abilities, if Carolina does in fact hire a young, offensive-minded head coach, but the rest of the offensive staff would likely be replaced by the new hire’s preferred assistants.

Lastly, Tabor seems invincible in Carolina. While he doesn’t seem likely to receive any serious consideration for the permanent head coaching job, Tepper continues to favor Tabor for his leadership as the interim head coach and his record as a special teams coordinator.

All of this stands as mere speculation, though, until Carolina is able to secure their newest head coach. And with Tepper employing six coaches (including interims) as skippers since buying the team in 2018, he’s developing a reputation that may make it difficult to lure in top talent. According to ESPN’s David Newton, sources around the league believe that Tepper’s impatience for head coaches, coupled with his recent drink toss that led to a $300K fine, will impact the team’s head coaching search, making it difficult to nail down the candidates of their choice.

Still, a head coaching opportunity is the pinnacle of the profession, and someone will be sure to nail down this newest opportunity in Carolina. They just may be pressed to include some of the above coaches in their new staff.

Bill Belichick Candidate For Panthers HC Job?

Since buying the Panthers in 2018, David Tepper has employed six head coaches (including interims). So, with the organization eyeing a replacement for the recently-fired Frank Reich, Tepper surely wants his new hire to stick. So, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the Panthers are already connected to the biggest potential name on the HC market.

[RELATED: Panthers Fire HC Frank Reich]

League sources told Chad Finn of the Boston Globe that the Panthers are a team to watch in the upcoming Bill Belichick sweepstakes. The iconic head coach could see his illustrious tenure with the Patriots come to an end following the season, and while Robert Kraft and co. could hold out for trade compensation, Belichick will likely have a say in his next landing spot.

Since most teams would surely welcome in one of the greatest head coaches of all time, you would figure the lowly (and tumultuous) Panthers would be hard pressed to recruit Belichick. However, Finn notes that there are a number of factors that could draw the 71-year-old to Carolina.

For starters, the smaller media market means the curmudgeonly Belichick wouldn’t have to deal with the same headaches caused by the Boston media. Next, the coach would be “far away” from the Patriots and the AFC East, and the Panthers aren’t scheduled to take on New England until the 2025 campaign. Belichick would also be closer to his home in Florida, where he likes to spend parts of the offseason.

Of course, financials could also convince Belichick to join the Panthers. Tepper is the third-richest owner in the NFL, meaning he’d be able to pay Belichick while also spend on a pricey roster. Plus, considering general manager Scott Fitterer‘s uncertain future with the organization, Belichick would probably have carte blanche to run the front office as he wishes.

From the Panthers perspective, a Belichick hire would run counter to recent reports that the organization was eyeing more of an offensive-minded coach. Further, Tepper made it clear that he wants his next coach to be with the organization for the long haul. While Belichick might still have a few years left in the tank, the Panthers would be foolish to expect a long-term commitment from the coach.

Belichick will be one of many coaches connected to the Panthers gig once the season comes to an end. For what it’s worth, interim head coach Chris Tabor might not be included in that grouping of candidates. Tabor told reporters that he was given no assurances that he’ll be considered for the full-time job (per ESPN’s David Newton).

Frank Reich Unlikely To Coach Again; Panthers Expected To Target Offensive HC For 2024

NOVEMBER 28: When speaking to the media in the wake of Reich’s dismissal, Tepper unsurprisingly pushed back on the notion that his impatience regarding coaches will make the Panthers opening an unattractive one. He also suggested, via Person, that an outside hiring firm will not be consulted for the latest search process (subscription required). Tepper has elected to keep his previous hiring decisions in-house, and it appears that will remain the case in 2023.

Confirming previous reports on the matter – as well as Reich’s public remarks – Tepper also said the Panthers’ decision to draft Young over C.J. Stroud was “unanimous.” Tepper is widely understood to have played a role in the selection (as well as other elements of the team’s football operations), but his assertion on the matter of the Young pick may help smooth over meddling-related concerns for prospective coaching candidates, especially if those with a background on offense are again prioritized.

NOVEMBER 27: Frank Reich now joins Nathaniel Hackett, Urban Meyer and Pete McCulley as the only post-merger head coaches to be fired before their first season ended. This resided as a McCulley-only list for more than 40 years, but owners have acted swiftly over the past three. David Tepper pulled the plug on a four-year contract Monday, and Reich’s firing edges out Hackett and Meyer, who were respectively fired 15 and 13 games into their Denver and Jacksonville HC tenures. Only McCulley was fired sooner since 1970; the 49ers canned him after nine games.

Offset language helped the Panthers avoid much of the remaining payments on the ill-fated seven-year Matt Rhule contract, with the longtime college HC signing on as Nebraska’s leader. But Reich may not give the Panthers the chance to recoup money. The veteran NFL HC and assistant and former quarterback said shortly after his firing this is probably it for him in the NFL, though he did not definitively announce a retirement.

This is probably the final chapter of my NFL journey,” Reich said, via the Charlotte Observer’s Scott Fowler. “… There’s a heart-pounding disappointment in not hitting the marks that we needed to hit to keep this going and try to get it turned around. It hurts me for the guys, the team, the coaches and the fans.

Reich has been an NFL assistant or head coach since 2006, moving into the profession on a full-time basis eight years after his playing career concluded. The Super Bowl-winning OC’s remark Monday differs from his plan upon being fired midway through last season. Following the Colts dismissal, Reich revealed intentions to coach again. He received another opportunity, beating out Steve Wilks for the Carolina job. But the Panthers regressed after making that change. Despite Reich being in his first season, Tepper, who was irate after a Week 12 loss dropped the Panthers to 1-10, canned the coach he hired in January.

Reich, 61, appeared to pull back the curtain on rumblings of Tepper overreach during the season, indicating the owner took a hands-on approach. While animosity would understandably exist after being fired 11 games into his tenure, the well-liked coach did not indicate any existed. Tepper has now fired three coaches in-season; he dismissed Ron Rivera 12 games into the 2019 campaign.

I want to convey that I have nothing but positive thoughts about Mr. Tepper. On a personal level, I saw a side of him that I deeply respect and care about,” Reich said, via Fowler. “But the NFL is a meritocracy. It’s not unconditional love. I understand from a professional standpoint Mr. Tepper is going to have certain standards that he expects to have met. I have no hard feelings, and my personal relationship with him was actually a real highlight of this short time.”

Firing coaches during the season in back-to-back years brings the latest round of turmoil for the Tepper-era Panthers, whose first-round pick — stationed atop the 2024 draft board with six weeks left — goes to the Bears via the Bryce Young trade. It will be interesting to see the run of candidates interested in the job, but despite Reich’s struggles, The Athletic’s Joe Person indicates the sixth-year owner is likely to again target an offense-minded HC (subscription required).

As should be expected, veteran special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is unlikely to receive much consideration for the long-term job,’s David Newton and Jeremy Fowler note. Although Tabor has been an NFL special teams coach since 2008, the path for ST staffers to rise to the top sideline job — John Harbaugh‘s Baltimore success notwithstanding — remains narrow.

Wilks drew support to become the first interim HC since Doug Marrone (Jaguars, 2017) to see his interim tag removed, but Person adds Tepper had zeroed in on an offense-geared coach. Ben Johnson had emerged as Tepper’s top target, but the young Lions OC removed his name from consideration a week before the Panthers hired Reich. Wilks interviewed twice along with Reich, instead ending up as the 49ers’ DC. It is not surprising to see an owner prefer an offensively oriented HC, given recent NFL trends. The Panthers will aim for a leader who can get more out of Young, presumably with a better cast of weaponry in place for 2024.

The Panthers fired Young’s position coach and their running backs coach after canning Reich, and’s Ian Rapoport indicates the ousters of Josh McCown and Duce Staley came from Tabor and Jim Caldwell. Staley had worked with Reich in Philadelphia as well, while McCown interviewed twice for Houston’s HC job.

A Reich hire, Caldwell has received more power following Monday morning’s change. Thomas Brown is back in place as the play-caller, however. Reich had taken back play-calling duties after handing them off to Brown for a three-game stretch. The Panthers, who had attempted to blend Reich concepts with those Brown learned from Sean McVay with the Rams, rank 30th in total offense and 29th in points scored.

Former Panthers tight end-turned-FOX analyst Greg Olsen would be interested in the position, per Person, should Tepper contact him regarding what would be an outside-the-box hire. Olsen is best remembered for his Panthers years and is early in his broadcasting career. FOX, however, is still planning to effectively demote him for Tom Brady in 2024.

Prior to the Panthers’ Week 12 loss to the Titans,’s Mike Garafolo had not gotten the sense Reich being a one-and-done was a certainty (video link). Though, Reich and GM Scott Fitterer were reported to be on the hot seat several days ago. Tepper had naturally planned to evaluate Reich’s work at season’s end. It turned out the owner no longer wanted the former Carolina QB mentoring Young, whom the owner was believed to have made a strong push for ahead of the draft. Hired to work with Rhule in 2021, Fitterer should certainly be considered on a hot seat going into the season’s home stretch.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, QBs, Maye, Panthers

Tom Brady‘s retirement shoved the Buccaneersvoid-years bill to 2023, and the $35.1MM cap hit will complicate the team’s plans to replace the all-time great. Tampa Bay is more than $55MM over the cap, as of Wednesday, and has upper-crust cornerback Jamel Dean on track for free agency. While the rest of the NFC South is being connected to quarterbacks, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets the Bucs should not be considered players for top-tier QB free agents. This would include Jimmy Garoppolo and almost definitely Derek Carr, and while Stroud adds the team will look at the market, the Bucs’ price range could be considered in the midlevel area.

Former second-rounder Kyle Trask, whom Jeremy Fowler of notes Bucs players are high on as a player who can compete for the starting job (after two years in development), is the only quarterback left on the roster. The team holds the No. 19 overall pick. Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • The Saints have been the team most closely connected to Carr. They will need to complete their usual batch of winter restructures to be in position to pay him, though there are not as many avenues available to the crafty organization compared to recent years. But the Saints started their path to cap compliance Wednesday. They restructured Marcus Maye‘s deal, Field Yates of tweets. By moving $6.07MM of Maye’s salary into a signing bonus, the team created $4.85MM in cap space. Baby steps. The Saints are still more than $50MM over the cap.
  • Another Matt Rhule-era hire is no longer with the Panthers. The team parted ways with VP of player personnel Pat Stewart, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Stewart, who worked with Rhule at both Western Carolina and Temple, joined the Panthers in 2020.
  • New Panthers HC Frank Reich will bring in ex-Rams assistant Jonathan Cooley, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets. Cooley is set to join the Panthers as their defensive backs coach. He and new Carolina DC Ejiro Evero worked together in Los Angeles, with the Rams promoting Cooley after Evero left for Denver last year. The Rams, despite blocking Cooley from interviewing with the Vikings in 2022, fired him just after this past season ended.
  • Another Rams staffer fired along with Cooley in January will catch on in the NFC South. The Saints are hiring Kevin Carberry to be their assistant offensive line coach, Yates adds (on Twitter). Carberry served as the Rams’ offensive line coach during their Super Bowl LVI-winning 2021 season and last year. He will replace Zach Strief, who is now the Broncos’ O-line coach.
  • When Ryan Jensen went down during a July practice, he tore his MCL and PCL fully but only partially tore his ACL. This allowed for the veteran Buccaneers center to avoid surgery, Dan Pompei of Athletic notes (subscription required). Jensen also suffered meniscus damage, per Pompei, who adds retirement was a consideration for the injured blocker. Jensen took out a $5MM insurance policy in the event of a career-ending injury. A stem cell treatment in Antigua, however, made a difference in Jensen’s recovery. The 31-year-old blocker managed to make it back to practice late in the season and played in Tampa Bay’s wild-card loss to Dallas. Two years remain on Jensen’s three-year, $39MM contract.
  • Eddy Pineiro came to Charlotte as a Zane Gonzalez replacement, but the ex-Bears kicker fared well. Pineiro made 33 of 35 field goals, including a 15-for-16 mark from beyond 40 yards, and Person views him as the most likely Panthers kicker in 2023. Gonzalez suffered a preseason quad injury, leading to a full-season IR stay. The Rhule signee is under contract through 2023, while Pineiro is a free agent. But the latter has ties to special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, whom Person adds Reich is retaining. Tabor coached Pineiro in Chicago as well.

Coaching Notes: Texans, 49ers, Bengals, Panthers

DeMeco Ryans was a popular name on the head coach market before ultimately landing with the Texans. The now-former 49ers defensive coordinator also generated strong interest from the Broncos, but the coach admitted that his choice to join Houston instead of Denver wasn’t all that difficult.

“When it came down to it, there was no place I wanted to be any more than H-Town,” Ryans said earlier this week (via NFL Network’s Bridget Condon on Twitter). “…It was a no brainer.”

While Ryans’ comments could certainly be interpreted as shade being thrown at the Broncos, his comments were more about his connection to Houston and the Texans organization. Ryans was selected by the Texans in the second round of the 2006 draft, and he proceeded to spend six years with the organization. While the Texans were able to lure their favorite for the job, the Broncos had to pivot to Sean Payton, who was ultimately dealt from the Saints to Denver.

With Ryans now in the building, the focus shifts to the rest of the coaching staff. Naturally, the coach will be looking to some of his former peers for positions, as we previously heard that 49ers passing game coordinator Bobby Slowik as well as 49ers defensive quality control coaches Andrew Hayes-Stoker and Stephen Adegoke are candidates to join Ryans in Houston. Matt Barrows of The Athletic adds another name to the list of targeted 49ers coaches, noting that Ryans leaned heavily on safeties coach Daniel Bullocks when he was in San Francisco. Barrows described Bullocks as Ryans’ “eyes in the coaches’ booth,” so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the head coach recruits his confidante to Houston.

More coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Bengals quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher interviewed for the Buccaneers offensive coordinator job before Cincinnati ultimately signed him to an extension. However, the new contract hasn’t stopped teams from inquiring on his availability. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor indicated that “there’s still interest from other teams” in adding Pitcher to their staff, per ESPN’s Ben Baby on Twitter. Pitcher became the club’s quarterbacks coach in 2020, and his work with 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow over the past few years is starting to pique the interest of other organizations.
  • It’s been a bit since we heard that the Commanders requested an interview with 49ers assistant head coach/running backs coach Anthony Lynn for their offensive coordinator vacancy. Earlier this week, Josina Anderson passed along (via Twitter) that Lynn had follow-up and informal conversations with the Commanders to determine “if there is mutual interest.” It’s uncertain if the two sides decided to move on with a formal interview.
  • Commanders defensive backs coach Chris Harris interviewed for the 49ers defensive coordinator vacancy earlier this week. If Harris doesn’t land the gig, he’s most likely going to end up on the Titans coaching staff, per Albert Breer of (via Twitter). We heard last month that Harris was set to join the Titans as their their defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach. However, no deal was finalized, and Harris was clearly waiting out the 49ers’ search before fully committing to Tennessee.
  • The Panthers are searching for new coordinators on both sides of the ball, but it sounds like their special teams coordinator will be sticking around under new head coach Frank Reich. According to Joseph Person of The Athletic, general manager Scott Fitterer and owner David Tepper encouraged head coaching candidates to retain ST coordinator Chris Tabor and offensive line coach James Campen for next season. Following a four-year stint as the Bears special teams head, Tabor joined the Panthers last offseason, with Reich describing the unit as “really strong.” Campen has bounced around a bit in recent years before landing in Carolina for the 2022 campaign.

Bears Hire Richard Hightower As ST Coordinator

New Bears head coach Matt Eberflus continues to fill out his first staff. Chicago has hired Richard Hightower as its special teams coordinator, the team announced.

This move qualifies as something of a surprise. Hightower had served as the 49ers’ ST coordinator since 2017, joining the Niners when Kyle Shanahan accepted the team’s head coaching post. The two men were college teammates at the University of Texas, and they also worked together on coaching staffs in Houston, Washington, and Cleveland, so it may have been difficult for Eberflus to prise Hightower away from San Francisco.

On the other hand, the 49ers’ special teams units generally struggled over the past several years and ranked 26th in the league in terms of DVOA in 2021, so Shanahan may have been more willing to let his longtime colleague depart than he might have been in years past. Still, Hightower remains a respected coach, and from 2017-19, San Francisco’s kicking unit ranked first in the NFL in made field goals (102) and fourth in field goal percentage (89.5). The club’s punt coverage ranked second in the league over that three-year span (h/t Of course, Hightower’s charges also played a pivotal role in the Niners’ upset of the Packers in this year’s divisional round matchup, blocking a field goal on the final play of the first half and returning a blocked punt for the team’s only touchdown.

Rich Bisaccia was recently considered the favorite for the Bears’ ST coordinator post, and as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets, Bisaccia was indeed the first choice. It sounds as if Eberflus would have been willing to let Chris Tabor, who worked as Chicago’s special teams coordinator from 2018-21, to continue in his role, but Tabor jumped ship to the Panthers.

Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, among others, believes this move means that Bisaccia will be heading to Green Bay (Twitter link). We heard just yesterday that the Packers are in talks with Bisaccia about their own ST coordinator vacancy.

Hightower, 41, worked as Chicago’s assistant special teams coordinator in 2016. He has 15 years of coaching experience in the NFL.

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network first reported that the Bears were hiring Hightower (via Twitter).